Benedict College, a historically Black educational institution in Columbia, South Carolina, will be eliminating seven majors this school year. The majors that will be cut are history, religion and philosophy, sociology, political science, transportation and logistics engineering, mathematics, and economics. This is only one of the major changes that have been made by college president Roslyn Artis in an effort to improve the college’s financial situation and efficiency.
President Artis states that “eliminating the major does not eliminate the discipline.” For example, even though religion is being cut as a major, classes will still be offered on religious topics, a full-time chaplain will be on campus, and religious services will be held on campus weekly. Additionally she states that removing these majors will eliminate the competition between them and other HBCUs with similar programs in those disciplines. Upperclass students who are in majors being eliminated will still be able to graduate with those majors. But incoming students will not be allowed to declare any of the aforementioned programs as their major.
In response to lower enrollment over recent years, President Artis has laid off 37 staff members and sold the college’s three off-campus housing buildings, which has saved the college $3.2 million. She has also reduced tuition from $28,630 to $22,800 per year, but required students to pay 90 percent of it before they can start classes. President Artis says, “if you look at what we were actually collecting, and what the students could afford to pay, we actually will be in a stronger net cash position than we were last year.”
A year ago, Dr. Roslyn Artis became the fourteenth president of Benedict College. She is the first woman to hold the position. Earlier, she served as the first woman president of Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens.
After a career in law, in 2003 Dr. Artis joined the staff at Mountain State University in Parkersburg, West Virginia, as senior academic officer for distance education. She later served as provost for distance education, vice president for advancement, president of the Mountain State University Foundation, and chief academic officer of the university. The university closed at the beginning of 2013 after it lost its accreditation.
Dr. Artis is a graduate of West Virginia State University and the West Virginia University School of Law. She holds an educational doctorate from Vanderbilt University.